Botswana, Namibia call for calm amid tension over shooting of Namibian nationals

Botswana and Namibia have issued a joint statement calling for citizens to remain calm and patient after fatal shootings in November of three Namibian nationals and one Zambian national by the Botswana Defence Force.

In the statement by the two heads of state, the two sides underscored the deepening bilateral relations, and conveyed their commitment to resolving the matter expeditiously and amicably.

A joint investigation has been concluded and is under consideration by both governments, it said, adding that an incident-free future is envisaged and desired by the two sides, and that joint bilateral efforts will be put to avert any recurrence of similar incidents.

The killing of the four, suspected to be poachers by the Botswanan side, has sparked tensions between the two African neighbours with Namibian citizens engaging in protests.

Some nearly turned violent, causing damage to property and disruption of cross-border movement.

Families of the deceased told media that they were fishermen and were crossing into the Botswanan side of the Chobe River to fish. Residents along the border have long relied on the river for their livelihood.

Botswana has over the past years seen increasing incidents of poaching in the area, has consequently deployed anti-poaching units from the army to patrol the area. Several fatal shootings have occurred between the army and poachers. Earlier this year, one army officer was fatally shot.